Tips for Successful Crate Training

by | Dog Care |

dog in a crate
Photo Credit: petparent.me

Dog crates can serve several functions. For dogs, crates can act as a home within a home where they can take refuge when they’re tired, overwhelmed, or in need of a quiet place to themselves. For dog owners, crates can be used as a familiar space for your dog while traveling and as a useful training tool for housebreaking or preventing destructive behaviour.

While there are several benefits to crate training, crates can also be easily misused. Crates should be used as a short-term management tool and not a long-term solution to behavioural or training issues.

If you’re crate training your dog, here are some helpful tips to make sure the process is a success:

  • Keep the crate close to you: Try to keep the crate somewhere near you while you’re home, like the living room, next to your bed at night, or in a central room of the house. This will encourage your dog to go into its crate without feeling isolated or lonely.
  • Give your dog some incentive: If your pup is hesitant about setting foot in its crate, leave some treats inside throughout the day and praise your pet when it goes inside the crate. It’s important to build a positive association with the crate, which is why you should never push or force your dog inside.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in its crate before it’s ready: Leaving your dog alone in its crate before it’s comfortable can build a negative association. The first time you close the crate door, you should stay in the same room. Eventually you can work your way up to leaving the room and eventually leaving the house. Introduce each step gradually and for short periods of time.
  • The crate is your dog’s space: Explain to everyone – young children and adults alike,  that the dog’s crate is its private space. Children should not be allowed to play in the crate. No one should be allowed to handle the dog while it’s inside the crate.
  • Start your training with a break: Taking a walk or having a play period before starting your crate training will help burn off some excess energy and make sure your dog has gone to the bathroom beforehand—that way you don’t have to interrupt your training with a bathroom break.
  • Watch for anxiety: If your dog shows signs of anxiety, let it out of the crate immediately. Crate training should not be used as a way to treat separation anxiety. Your dog will simply exhibit the same signs of separation anxiety inside the crate—signs such as howling, soiling the crate, or trying to damage the crate to get out. Click here to learn more about separation anxiety in dogs.
  • Make the crate comfortable: Most dogs will eventually enter and leave their crate voluntarily throughout the day, because it’s become just another place to sit or lie down. When you start to crate train your dog, you can promote this behaviour by placing a favourite blanket or toy inside the crate and leaving the door open.

Remember, your dog’s crate should be seen as a positive, safe space and should never be used as a form of punishment. The key to successful crate training is to stay calm and to work gradually within your dog’s comfort level. While the crate may be intimidating at first, with proper training your dog will see it as a place to go for security, safety and comfort.